Sunday, May 30, 2010

c)i @ ICAD in Washington, DC | 12 June, 2010

c)i has been invited to perform a concert at the 2010 conference of the International Community of Auditory Display,  at the Jack Morton Auditorium on the George Washington University campus on the 12th of June. The main portion of the conference will run from June 11-15.

ICAD is a forum for presenting research on the use of sound to display data, monitor systems, and provide enhanced user interfaces for computers and virtual reality systems. It is unique in its singular focus on auditory displays and the array of perception, technology, and application areas that this encompasses. In keeping with its theme Sonic Discourse—Expression through Sound, the conference will feature a relaxed day of demonstrations and poster presentations, and an evening concert of sonifications and compositions written expressly for the conference.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On my new piece "Present" for the 5/16 and 5/21 shows

Sometimes the starting point of a piece is a particular sound-texture or a melody; sometimes it’s a story. Sometimes it’s a poem or a picture. Sometimes it is a case of finding the right metaphor for something (a feeling? an idea?) that escapes direct analysis. For this piece I first felt a sense of movement, free movement, movement impeded by obstacles, movement that travels long distances, and movement that stands in place. I had the idea that the music from the piano behaved like a liquid. At the beginning of the piece it is sloshing around in there, from one end of the keyboard to the other, very turbulent. So turbulent that sometimes some of this music would splash out of the piano onto the violinist, whose music would be colored or diluted by the piano. The strings become soaked with this music, and the piano’s leftover liquid becomes more and more viscous, clotting up into funky rhythms and chords. The strings have two identities, they can be “stringy”-those piano notes are expressed as long, drippy glissandos- or they can be brittle, with very short, sharp digs into the string making more noise than tone. (Only later did I realize that these properties are shared exactly by Laffy Taffy. Sorry.) And the winds? The flute behaves like a flame, playful and agile, producing a lot of heat and light. The clarinet is earth. Most of the time it is just damply observing. But under the right circumstances it turns dry, abrasive, gets into everywhere it shouldn’t. Maybe this is all a bit too surreal: what I have are different chords, textures, melodic fragments. The instruments each have their own ways of expressing these materials, their own dialects, perhaps. Experimenting with different combinations of material, in different combinations of instruments, is my (and the piece’s) motivation.

Even with a clear starting point, the final product can be surprising. I don’t like to plan everything out beforehand. When my intentions become too ossified, I tend to lose interest, like knowing the end of a suspenseful movie. Instead I compose outward, and let myself be drawn toward what is necessary. Last fall when I was asked what would be the title of this work, for the press materials, I replied, “How to disappear is how to appear completely.” It was the fall, and I was completely submerged in the emotional and compositional challenges of The Lost Child, the most complex and deep-driving work of my career. Perhaps I was subconsciously thinking of making a quick getaway. But as the spring arrived, with the success of The Lost Child, getting back with old friends, making new ones, deepening emotional connections and feeling more power and more purpose, this music had to be renamed. The piece is lively and rhythmic, with bright, astringent harmonies and showy demonstrations of virtuosity. Cheerful, even! I chose the title “Present,” which refers first to “being present,” a wonderful sense of being alive in the world, being alert and immersed in activity; and second, “present” as a gift, a gratitude for that feeling and for the musicians who so beautifully render my work.

(the foundation of this article comes from a blog entry generously commissioned by the Philadelphia Music Project e-zine: )

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Old thoughts on "The General Schemed"

At two upcoming c)i concerts, my work The General Schemed will be performed– it is always a happy thing to return to past works, especially with players like these. The work was premiered by counter)induction on 13 June, 2008 in New York NY; it is always interesting to return to a piece after some time, in that interval between performances provides perspective on the successes and failures of a work and on the technical compositional devices employed, but more interestingly for me at least the shift in context of presentation will reveal new aspects and implications of the work, opening new dialogues with other works and practices.